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Hot cross buns on a gray platter.

Hot Cross Buns

These homemade Hot Cross Buns are warmly spiced, just sweet enough, and studded with dried fruit. Although these yeast bread buns are a traditional Easter recipe, Hot Cross Buns are so delicious, you'll want to make them year-round.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 336kcal


For the buns:

For the egg wash:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

For the glaze:


To make the buns:

  • In a large measuring cup, whisk together warm milk, butter, egg, and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and cinnamon. With the motor running on low, slowly drizzle in the milk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
  • Add raisins and increase mixer speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, 9 to 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl (have pulled away) but stay attached at the bottom. If the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl.
  • Turn out the dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Place in a greased bowl and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (80 degrees to 85 degrees, see recipe notes) until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  • Coat a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper. Turn the risen dough out on to a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a tightly formed bun and place in the prepared baking dish, seam side down.
  • Cover the buns with plastic wrap coated with nonstick spray and let rise in a warm place (80 degrees to 85 degrees, see recipe notes) until doubled in volume and touching, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven 375 degrees. To make the egg wash, whisk together egg and water. Brush gently over the buns. Bake until the buns are deep golden brown and the interiors have reached 190 degrees, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

To make the glaze:

  • Whisk together powdered sugar, water, and vanilla in a small bowl. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze in a cross pattern on top of each bun (I found it easiest to do a long, continuous line in one direction across the buns in a row, and then repeat in a perpendicular direction for each row). If the glaze is too thick, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you can drizzle it.


  1. Warm milk: Instead of using refrigerator temperature milk, warm it to 110 degrees. This is important to allow the yeast to activate.
  2. Vanilla extract: You can make your own vanilla if you want to. If desired, you could replace some of the vanilla in the glaze (say, 1/4 teaspoon) with almond or orange extract.
  3. Active dry yeast: Fleischmann’s, Red Star, and most common yeast brands sell packets filled with ¼ ounce or 2 ¼ teaspoons of yeast. Below, learn how to test yeast to guarantee it’s active.
  4. Yield: One batch of the recipe makes 12 buns.
  5. Storage: Store the buns at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to xx days, with the baking pan covered plastic wrap or the buns tucked inside a zip-top plastic bag.
  6. Make ahead: After forming the dough into balls and placing them in a baking dish, don’t let them rise the second time. Instead, slide the covered baking dish into the refrigerator up to 16 hours before you need them. When you’re ready, let them sit at room temperature for one hour, until doubled in size, then proceed with step 7.
  7. Freezer: Arrange cooled buns on a sheet tray that will fit horizontally in your freezer. They can be close, but not touching. You don’t want them to stick together as they freeze. Freeze the buns until solid, then transfer them from the tray to a zipper-top plastic bag. Press the extra air out of the bag as you seal it, then label and date the bag. Thaw at room temperature.
  8. Score it: If you prefer the look of incised buns, in which the dough is scored to form a cross shape, it is simple to add and offers a nice divot for the glaze to rest. After step 6 (the second rise), use a sharp paring knife to make a 1/4-inch "X" slice across the top of each roll. Brush on the egg wash and bake.
  9. Testing yeast for freshness: Dissolve ½ teaspoon sugar in ½ cup warm water. Add one packet (or 2 teaspoons) yeast, stir, and wait 10 minutes. If the yeast mixture is bubbly and domed, your yeast is active and ready to go. (You can use the same yeast you tested–just reduce the liquid in your recipe by ½ cup.)
  10. How to proof dough: Yeast bread needs a warm, draft-free space to rise, a process called proofing. Here’s how I make a perfect warm area: Turn the oven on to the lowest temperature it will go, usually 200 degrees. Once it reaches 110 degrees, turn the oven off. Place the dough in the oven and close the door. Opening the oven door will lower the heat a bit, and that’s okay (you’re aiming for 75 to 85 degrees). Repeat as needed for second proofing.


Calories: 336kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 205mg | Potassium: 170mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 196IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 2mg